Tag Archives: winter

February is the Longest Month

The month of February is not the shortest month, but the longest for me. The length of a Minnesota winter has always been a big psychological barrier. I did not embraced Nordic skiing this winter and now my winter running has been interrupted by a nagging hamstring injury. For the past month as I watched the snow piles rise in the church parking lot I wondered if spring will ever come.

Saint Ambrose beyond the snow.

Saint Ambrose beyond the snow.

Yet I hope in the promise of spring. The evidence of it may be fleeting, but I am confident that the snow will melt, the trees will bud and my winter coat will be shed.

In a similar way, I take hope in God’s promises of scripture. The Bible is not a set of apps that I can download into my life. I cannot go to the “Google Playstore” and find a verse or two on depression or happiness and plug them into my life. No, the Bible is more like a story into which I am invited. As I live God’s story I discover that no matter how chaotic or troubling the plot may be at times, the Author remains faithful to the story of redemption and new life.

Just as I know that spring will come to Minnesota, I know that Jesus rose from the dead and comes to bring life. Beyond the snows of winter lies the promise of new life.

This is written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).

Walter Brueggemann wrote these word of questions and hope regarding the Bible thirty years ago.

The central concerns of the Bible are not flat certitudes . . . but assurances that are characterized by risk and open mystery. The quality of certitude offered by the Bible is never that of a correct answer but rather of a trusted memory, a dynamic image, a restless journey, a faithful voice. Such assurances leave us restless and tentative in the relation, and always needing to decide afresh. Rather than closing out things in a settled resolution, they tend to open things out, always in fresh and deep question and urgent invitation. The central thrust of the Bible, then, is to raise new questions, to press exploration of new dimensions of fidelity, new spheres for trust. Such questions serve as invitations to bolder, richer faithfulness. Such questions also serve as critics exposing our easy resolution, our faithless posturing, and our self-deception. If the Bible is only a settled answer, it will not reach us seriously. But it is also an open question that presses and urges and invites. For that reason the faithful community is never fully comfortable with the Bible and never has finally exhausted its gifts or honored its claims. (The Bible Makes Sense)

Lord Jesus, continue to write hope upon my heart.

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Still Light

After posting about Lent the past two days, I had to remind myself that it is still the season of Epiphany, the season of light in the midst of darkness.  Epiphany began on January 6th with the light of the Bethlehem star leading the magi to baby Jesus (Matthew 2) and it ends Sunday, March 6, with the story of  the Transfiguration when the glory of Jesus is revealed to the disciples in a blaze of light.  And I certainly feel the need for light this winter.

Having grown up in Washington state, I had to learn to adjust to Minnesota winters.  In the learning process, I discovered that for me the severity was not as difficult as the duration.  I could be kind of macho about big storms or severe cold.  I remember running with some friends in -15 below temperature, basically so we could brag to other runners about our devotion (or our foolishness?).  But this winter seems to have started early and just settled

Foolish Runner or "I can't hear you due to the icicles in my ears"

in for a long stay.  And though we had a few days of teasing warmth last week, I know that winter could easily stretch into late March.   I can wish or complain or rant or blog, but the climate will not relinquish its grip based on my reaction to it.

So I come back to the season of light, Epiphany, and the glimpses of God’s glory.  One glimpse is that now, as I drive home, I see the sunset.  And what glorious sunsets I have witnessed. Beauty is one way God reveals God’s self, even in the midst of a long winter.  The sun light on freshly fallen snow has such an intensity that I have to squint or wear sunglasses. Yet not every day has that intensity.  Light can brilliant or muted, just as God’s power and presence can be for us.  I recently heard Bishop Rogness preach that God’s light permeates all of life, even when we think everything is dark.  We tend to seek the spectacular fireworks of glory, yet God is often in the flickering candle.  The light of Jesus shines in every season, even the Minnesota winter.

When or how has God’s light shone for you?

Serenity Prayer

Serenity in Winter

I have always been a great fan of the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
 

It is used not only at AA meeting, but throughout the church.  The author of the prayer was Reinhold Niebuhr, an American pastor and theologian of the last century.  His original prayer continued

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Amen.”

I am one who believes in the power of prayer, but that prayer is not some magic bullet that offers instant results.  Prayer is always based on the ongoing relationship we have with God, and God’s expectations for us.  There are things we are meant to change and we need to discern what they are and our role in the change. Whether at home, at work, or in our congregation, there are attitudes and behaviors that we can change.  Asking for God’s guidance in our relationships and daily life is critical to healthy change.

 Which brings us to those things that we can not change, like the weather.   This winter started early and will probably be around at least two more months.  I know that I can complain about it, but I am asking for serenity to enjoy this day as a gift from God.   I believe there might be some wisdom in that.

How has prayer shaped your life this winter?